The word is an acronym derived from the phrase [ten to the power of] fifty-one ergs. It was coined by Gerald Brown of Stony Brook University in his work with Hans Bethe, because "it came up often enough in our work".
This unit of measure is convenient because a supernova typically releases about one foe of observable energy in a very short period (which can be measured in seconds). In comparison, if the Sun had its current luminosity throughout its entire lifetime, it would produce 3.827×1026 W × 3.1536×107 s/yr × 1010 yr ≈ 1.2 foe.
- Hartmann DH (April 1999). "Afterglows from the largest explosions in the universe". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 96 (9): 4752–5. Bibcode:1999PNAS...96.4752H. doi:10.1073/pnas.96.9.4752. PMC 33568. PMID 10220364.
- Marc Herant, Stirling A. Colgate, Willy Benz, and Chris Fryer (October 25, 1997). "Neutrinos and Supernovae" (PDF). Los Alamos Sciences. Los Alamos National Laboratory. Retrieved 2008-04-23.
- Gerald Brown (2006). Hans Bethe and His Physics. World Scientific. ISBN 981-256-609-0.